History of the Bahamas

The verifiable History of the Bahamas can be traced back to Christopher Columbus's first voyage in 1492. The first attempt at a permanent western settlement in the Bahamas occurred in 1647. The 18th century African slave trade brought many Africans to the Bahamas. Their descendants form a large part of Bahamas' population. The Bahamas gained independence from the United Kingdom on July 10th 1973.

The Spanish-Lucayan Encounter

On 12 October 1492, Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the Western Hemisphere in the Bahamas. He encountered Arawak Indians and exchanged gifts with them. They were of the Lucayan tribe, and some traveled with Columbus in his return to Europe.

Spanish slave traders later captured native Lucayan Indians to work in gold mines in Hispaniola, and within 25 years, all Lucayans perished Fact|date=April 2007. Without a source of slaves, the Spanish did not colonize the islands, though they had claimed them.

When Europeans first landed on the islands, they reported the Bahamas were lushly forested. The forests were cleared during plantation days and have not regrown.

The Eleutherian Adventurers

In 1647, during the English Civil War, a group of Puritan religious refugees from the royalist colony of Bermuda, the "Eleutheran Adventurers", founded the first permanent European settlement in the Bahamas and gave Eleuthera Island its name. "Eleuthera" means "freedom."

The Lords Proprietors

Similar groups of settlers formed settlements in the Bahamas, but the isolated cays sheltered pirates and wreckers throughout the 17th century. Charles II granted land in the Bahamas to the Lords proprietors of Province of Carolina, but the islands were left entirely to themselves. After Charles Town was destroyed by a joint French and Spanish fleet in 1703, the local pirates proclaimed an anarchic 'Privateers' Republic' with Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, as chief magistrate. Nassau was the main port preferred by the pirates during this time.

Woodes Rogers

When the islands became a British Crown Colony in 1717, the first Royal Governor, a reformed pirate named Woodes Rogers, brought law and order to the Bahamas in 1718, when he expelled the buccaneers who had used the islands as bases. Instead, the pirates still working in these waters became privateers. Rogers is best known for his capture of pirates Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read.He also establishe the first House of Assembly in 1729 in The Bahamas

The Loyalists

During the American War of Independence the Bahamas fell to Spanish forces under General Galvez in 1782. After the American Revolution, the British government issued land grants to a group of British Loyalists, and the sparse population of the Bahamas tripled in a few years. The planters thought to grow cotton, but the limy soil was unsuited to it, and the plantations soon failed. Many of the current inhabitants are descended from the slaves brought to work on the Loyalist plantations. When the UK outlawed the slave trade in 1807, the Royal Navy began intercepting ships and depositing freed slaves in the Bahamas. Plantation life was finished after the emancipation of remaining slaves in 1834.


During the American Civil War, the Bahamas prospered as a center of Confederate blockade-running, producing cotton for the mills of England and running in arms and munitions. After World War I, the islands served as a base for American rum-runners.During the Post Emancipation Era Caribbean societies inherited a rigid race stratification which persisted and was in some cases reinforced by the unequal distribution of wealth and power. The three-tier race structure, which existed well into the 1940s and in some societies beyond, upheld the belief of European racial superiority and the inferiority of the African and their culture. Professor Rex Nettleford stated the need for roots and the attention quest for identity are natural to people everywhere. Race and racial attitudes are important in mixed Caribbean societies which often suffered from a type of schizophrenia and self contempt because of race and racial mixtures.The majority if the Caribbean people are African decent but in the past they were considered morally inferior to Europeans by local and metropolitan whites. As one of the main pillars of the slave society, this belief continued in the post emancipation years and took over Caribbean societies. This caused some browns and blacks to hate themselves therefore despising anything African.

The late-colonial period

During World War II, the Allies centred their flight training and antisubmarine operations for the Caribbean in the Bahamas. Since Havana was closed to American tourists in 1961, the Bahamas has developed into a major tourist resort. At the same time, the establishment of Freeport as a free trade zone (1955) developed an off-shore financial services center with a reputation for a tolerant atmosphere.

Post-independence era

Bahamians achieved self-government through a series of constitutional and political steps, attaining internal self-government in 1964 and full independence within the Commonwealth of Nations on July 10, 1973.

ee also

*The Bahamas
*Spanish colonization of the Americas
*British colonization of the Americas
*History of present-day nations and states


* [http://www.amazon.com/History-Bahamas-Michael-Craton/dp/0969256809] A History of the Bahamas, Michael Craton. St. James Place, London.1962. 320 pages.Includes maps and extensive source listings.
* [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1857.htm State Dept Country Study] - Includes information on the Bahamas including history.
* [http://www.historyofnations.net/northamerica/bahamas.html History of The Bahamas] - Essay on the history of the islands from Pre-Columbian times to recent election.
* [http://www.rulers.org/rulb1.html#bahamas Rulers.org — Bahamas] List of rulers for Bahamas

External links

* [http://www.redcoat.me.uk/bahamas.htm Bahamian Loyalists History]

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